directors of the company, in the prosecution 
of their mercantile projects; the other half to 
remain as before, a trading stock, and to be 
subject to those debts and losses. The petition 
was too reasonable not to be granted
In 1733, they again petitioned the parliament
that three-fourths of their trading stock might 
be turned into annuity stock, and only one-fourth 
remain as trading stock, or exposed to 
the hazards arising from the bad management 
of their directors. Both their annuity and 
trading stocks had, by this time, been reduced 
more than two millions each, by several different 
payments from government; so that this 
fourth amounted only to L.3,662,784 : 8 : 6. 
In 1748, all the demands of the company upon 
the king of Spain, in consequence of the 
assiento contract, were, by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
given up for what was supposed 
an equivalent. An end was put to their trade 
with the Spanish West Indies; the remainder 
of their trading stock was turned into an annuity 
stock; and the company ceased, in every 
respect, to be a trading company
It ought to be observed, that in the trade 
which the South Sea company carried on by 
means of their annual ship, the only trade by 
which it ever was expected that they could 
make any considerable profit, they were not 
without competitors, either in the foreign or 
in the home market. At Carthagena, Porto 
Bello, and La Vera Cruz, they had to encounter 
the competition of the Spanish merchants
who brought from Cadiz to those markets 
European goods, of the same kind with 
the outward cargo of their ship; and in England 
they had to encounter that of the English 
merchants, who imported from Cadiz 
goods of the Spanish West Indies, of the same 
kind with the inward cargo. The goods, both 
of the Spanish and English merchants, indeed, 
were, perhaps, subject to higher duties. But 
the loss occasioned by the negligence, profusion
and malversation of the servants of the 
company, had probably been a tax much heavier 
than all those duties. That a joint-stock 
company should be able to carry on successfully 
any branch of foreign trade, when private 
adventurers can come into any sort of 
open and fair competition with them, seems 
contrary to all experience
The old English East India company was 
established in 1600, by a charter from Queen 
Elizabeth. In the first twelve voyages which 
they fitted out for India, they appear to have 
traded as a regulated company, with separate 
stocks, though only in the general ships of the 
company. In 1612, they united into a joint 
stock. Their charter was exclusive, and, 
though not confirmed by act of parliament
was in those days supposed to convey a real 
exclusive privilege. For many years, therefore, 
they were not much disturbed by interlopers
Their capital, which never exceeded 
seven hundred and fourty-four thousand 
pounds, and of which fifty pounds was a share
was not so exorbitant, nor their dealings so 
extensive, as to afford either a pretext for gross 
negligence and profusion, or a cover to gross 
malversation. Notwithstanding some extraordinary 
losses, occasioned partly by the malice 
of the Dutch East India company, and 
partly by other accidents, they carried on for 
many years a successful trade. But in process 
of time, when the principles of liberty 
were better understood, it became every day 
more and more doubtful, how far a royal 
charter, not confirmed by act of parliament
could convey an exclusive privilege. Upon 
this question the decisions of the courts of justice 
were not uniform, but varied with the authority 
of government, and the humours of the 
times. Interlopers multiplied upon them; 
and towards the end of the reign of Charles 
II., through the whole of that of James II., 
and during a part of that of William III., reduced 
them to great distress. In 1698, a proposal 
was made to parliament, of advancing 
two millions to government, at eight per cent
provided the subscribers were erected into a 
new East India company, with exclusive privileges
The old East India company offered 
seven hundred thousand pounds, nearly the 
amount of their capital, at four per cent. upon 
the same conditions. But such was at that 
time the state of public credit, that it was more 
convenient for government to borrow two millions 
at eight per cent. than seven hundred 
thousand pounds at four. The proposal of 
the new subscribers was accepted, and a new 
East India company established in consequence
The old East India company, however, 
had a right to continue their trade till 
1701. They had, at the same time, in the 
name of their treasurer, subscribed very artfully 
three hundred and fifteen thousand 
pounds into the stock of the new. By a negligence 
in the expression of the act of parliament
which vested the East India trade in 
the subscribers to this loan of two millions, it 
did not appear evident that they were all obliged 
to unite into a joint stock. A few private 
traders, whose subscriptions amounted 
only to seven thousand two hundred pounds
insisted upon the privilege of trading separately 
upon their own stocks, and at their own 
risks. The old East India company had a 
right to a separate trade upon their own stock 
till 1701; and they had likewise, both before 
and after that period, a right, like that of 
other private traders, to a separate trade upon 
the three hundred and fifteen thousand pounds
which they had subscribed into the stock of 
the new company. The competition of the 
two companies with the private traders, and 
with one another, is said to have well nigh 
ruined both. Upon a subsequent occasion, in 
1730, when a proposal was made to parliament 
for putting the trade under the management 
of a regulated company, and thereby